If God expects us to pray for others, does that make Him a monster?

Scrolling through some recent comments, my attention was caught by this one, posted by keiths:

Besides not panning out scientifically, intercessory prayer doesn’t even make theological sense.

An old OP on the topic:

The (il)logic of intercessory prayer

So I checked out keiths’s OP, which describes the hypothetical case of a woman named Mary, suffering from a terminal illness, whose friends decide to pray for her. Keiths cuts to the chase:

The question is whether those prayers have any effect on God’s actions. Being an OmniGod [omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent – VJT], he will always do the right thing, without fail, regardless of whether anyone asks him to do so. How can prayer ever change what God does, if he always does the right thing in all circumstances?

In other words, is it ever possible that God is prepared to let Mary die, but decides to intervene simply because her family and friends pray for her recovery?

I’d like to make a few brief comments, just to get the discussion rolling:

1. It’s a good idea to read Aquinas first, before writing about intercessory prayer

Why? Because if you read what Aquinas says on the subject (Summa Theologica II-II, q. 83, art. 2), you’ll find that he’s familiar with the standard objections to the practice. Aquinas’s justification for intercessory prayer is not that it changes God’s will – indeed, he insists elsewhere that the will of God is unchangeable, citing the Bible to support his view, and deftly handling Scriptural passages which seem to imply the contrary. Rather, Aquinas maintains intercessory prayer is appropriate, because God wants us to obtain certain goods as a result of praying for them. In other words, intercessory prayer is purely for our benefit:

Reply to Objection 1. We need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God’s help in these matters.

Reply to Objection 2. As stated above, our motive in praying is, not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that, by our prayers, we may obtain what God has appointed.

Reply to Objection 3. God bestows many things on us out of His liberality, even without our asking for them: but that He wishes to bestow certain things on us at our asking, is for the sake of our good, namely, that we may acquire confidence in having recourse to God, and that we may recognize in Him the Author of our goods...

2. Is there only one right thing for God to do?

Keiths assumes that God, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, “will always do the right thing, without fail, regardless of whether anyone asks him to do so.” But that assumes there is only one right thing to do – in other words, that if God intervenes and heals Mary, it is because He is morally obliged to do so. Christians would dispute this claim.

3. Nevertheless, keiths’s final question is a valid one

But even if prayer on someone else’s behalf doesn’t change God’s will, it seems we can still meaningfully ask: would God have helped that person, even if we hadn’t prayed for them?

Now, the first thing that needs to be said is that keiths’s argument wouldn’t work against a predestinationist, who would say that God predestines not only the end, but also the means: in other words, He decrees that a person in need shall receive His assistance, precisely because He has already decreed that we shall pray for that person in need. So the question of what would have happened if we hadn’t prayed for that person never arises. And there are some who would argue that Aquinas himself was a predestinationist (see here and here for instance – but on the other hand, see here).

But let’s assume that our choices are not predestined, and that we possess genuine, libertarian free will. In that case, someone who prays for a person in need might not have done so – which prompts the question asked by keiths: would God have still helped that person, even if there were nobody praying for them?

If we answer “yes” to keiths’s question in all cases, then our prayers really don’t make a difference to anything happening in the world, and we can never say that something good would not have happened without our prayers. But if there are at least some cases where the answer is “no,” then that implies that God was willing to let Mary die, if nobody had prayed for her recovery. Or if God had some independent reason for wanting to let Mary live, then maybe there was some other person suffering from terminal illness, whom God was willing to let die.

Given the choice between saying that things would always work out the same, even without our prayers, and saying that there are some people whom God would not have rescued from death without our prayers, I think a religious believer should take the second option. To suppose that prayer makes absolutely no difference to the way things turn out is contrary to the whole message of the Bible. Nor do I think that a God Who would allow some people to die if they are not prayed for is a monster, on that account. That only follows if God has a moral obligation to end all death and suffering immediately. For my part, I am not persuaded that He has any such obligation.

I shall stop here, and invite readers to weigh in on keiths’s dilemma. What do you think?

170 thoughts on “If God expects us to pray for others, does that make Him a monster?

  1. PeterP: I’ve asked you before to cite the studies we should be looking at so we can discuss the methods used for the study, the data generated, and conclusions drawn.

    do you even read what you write??

    peace

  2. fifthmonarchyman: Look PeterP,

    This would be easier if you just dropped your caned atheist answers and listened to what the other side was saying.

    Atheistic answers now that’s funny! I have been listening to you and have commented right along with your posts.

    ,blockquote>Instead you are still acting as if this is some sort of contest that will be settled by counting hits and misses like a game of darts.

    AS I pointed out research studies are ‘contests’ to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Why not take a breath and actually try and interact for a change.

    says the man who refuses to discuss the methodology of the study he cited after claiming how important the methodology is to a study.

    I clearly stipulated that prayer is not a substitute for medical science and that our faith is a vital and integral part of what makes it efficacious.

    Some would disagree but that is an aside. The point I made obviously went over your head.

    Yet you are still acting as if Christians expect prayer to unleash some hidden physical substance that works instead of medical treatment

    In the study you cited it was the laying of hands and prayer that was supposed to unleash the healing and in some cases in 15 minutes. So yeah, I do expect that some christians expect this sort of thing to happen. Christians that pray (and end up killing their kids) for their kid to be healed from juvenile Type I diabetes certainly expect immediate and dramatic results. Just because you believe something doesn’t mean others believe something different.

    I also clearly explained that by design miracles should not be expected to reach the level of detailed medical case histories.

    Why not? The catholics clearly believe this to be the case, e.g., Lourdes miracles.

    Yet you are still acting as if Christians expect miracles to be just those sorts of things.

    With ample evidence to support that notion but I imagine in your eyes it likely is the ‘not a true christian believer’ to justify your own position while ignoring those of others.

    I’m not sure what I should conclude from your actions other than you are not paying attention.

    bless your heart, fifth.

  3. walto: You don’t need to prove that minds exist to prove that requests for assistance among persons are effectual.

    OK, prove it

    Describe for me a study that will prove that a particular persons actions are conscious responses to requests made to that person instead of unrelated natural ie un-conscious phenomena.

    an oldy but goody

    quote:

    We make requests of our fellow creatures as well as of God: we ask for the salt, we ask for a raise in pay,we ask a friend to feed the cat while we are on our holidays, we ask a woman to marry us. Sometimes we get what we ask for and sometimes not. But when we do, it is not nearly so easy as one might suppose to prove with scientific certainty a causal connection between the asking and the getting.

    end quote
    CS Lewis

    From here http://www.fellowshipconway.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/C.S.-Lewis-Efficacy-of-Prayer.pdf

    There really is nothing new under the sun
    peace

  4. fifthmonarchyman: OK, prove it

    Describe for me a study that will prove that a particular persons actions are conscious responses to requests made to that person instead of unrelated natural ie un-conscious phenomena.

    peace

    the game ‘simon says’ leaps to mind. Or, perhaps, asking for x number of cards in a game of draw poker. Or telling someone it is their bid in a game of pinochle and lo and behold the person bids!

    How about telling the taxi driver the address you want to go to and for some reason the taxi driver drives you to that location. did the taxi driver just pull that address out of thin air or was it a response to a request?

    Need we go on, fifth?

  5. Damn, fifth. This is not that difficult.

    You claim:

    There can be no empirical evidence that any request to any mind whatsoever is effectual.

    The examples that PeterP offered do constitute evidence that the requests were effectual. Absolute proof isn’t necessary.

    That taxi drivers tend to respond to our requests and take us where we ask to go is not some wild speculation. It’s a well-supported belief. People of normal intelligence are able to comprehend this and make use of it, without demanding absolute proof.

    What accounts for your inability to grasp this?

  6. keiths: What accounts for your inability to grasp this?

    I’ll take a shot at this. FMM will never ever consider any proposition that is inconsistent with his religious beliefs. In fact, he won’t even consider the possibility that others actually disagree with those beliefs. We are all just lying to ourselves and him.

  7. walto: I’ll take a shot at this. FMM will never ever consider any proposition that is inconsistent with his religious beliefs.

    Many of the positions he takes are inconsistent with his religious beliefs. I gather his central argument here is that if coincidence can never be absolutely disproved, therefore causation never happens. Nobody with the sense to look both ways before crossing the street would take such a position, unless their religious beliefs had painted them into a corner.

    So he must be content with the position that his god causes things, but causation is impossible. And once again we hear Dawkins telling us “there is no sensible limit to what the human mind can believe.”

  8. walto: Correlation is at least something. You don’t have either one.

    sure I do.

    Christians have been praying for their daily bread for millennia and lo and behold starvation is rare.

    By the same token Christians have been praying for speedy recovery from illness for just as long and more often than not recovery happens just as requested.

    Personally I can give you countless examples of answered prayer like the one I mentioned yesterday some quite astounding from my perspective.

    I could multiply that experience many times over with testimony from the people I know

    The only thing I can’t do is empirically prove that what I believe was answered prayer was not just a happy coincidence.

    We have the same difficulty with requests from any person.

    peace

  9. walto: . In fact, he won’t even consider the possibility that others actually disagree with those beliefs.

    No I fully understand that others disagree.

    I just think that at times the disagreement is irrational and based on your own bias and materialist presuppositions.

    peace

  10. Flint: I gather his central argument here is that if coincidence can never be absolutely disproved, therefore causation never happens.

    No my observation is that causation can not be proved empirically.

    We all know that causation happens but the best that the materialist can ever hope to show is correlation.

    get it??

    peace

  11. PeterP: Do you think it is an absolute that correlation never equals causation?

    I’m not sure what you are asking.

    I think that proving correlation is not the same thing as proving causation and proving correlation is all you can do empirically.

    That goes for both requests to God and your boss

    peace

  12. Flint: So he must be content with the position that his god causes things, but causation is impossible.

    Again this is definitely not my position.

    I am struck by your inability to comprehend what the other side is saying here.

    Instead you imagine an obviously goofy position and marvel that your opponent can believe such a silly thing when in fact the crazy belief is something you concocted and projected to him.

    peace

  13. fifthmonarchyman: We all know that causation happens but the best that the materialist can ever hope to show is correlation.

    get it??

    So what exactly were you hoping to achieve with this exchange? Are you expecting us to react to your posts?

    Or perhaps you are simply content that so many posts miraculously look like they are answering yours?

  14. fifthmonarchyman: I am struck by your inability to comprehend what the other side is saying here.

    Instead you imagine an obviously goofy position and marvel that your opponent can believe such a silly thing when in fact the crazy belief is something you concocted and projected to him.

    Is it Flint’s inability to comprehend or divine causation?

  15. fifthmonarchyman: I think that proving correlation is not the same thing as proving causation and proving correlation is all you can do empirically.

    Such is the fate of the non omniscient, but we can empirically demonstrate the frequency of the correlation as well.

    How does one prove causation?

  16. Hi everyone,

    I’ve just been looking at C.S. Lewis’s essay, The Efficacy of Prayer, which fifthmonarchyman linked to above. It makes a number of telling points.

    First, the reason why petitionary prayer makes theological sense is that human beings who pray are secondary causes, who help to realize God’s will in a particular way:

    “God,” said Pascal, “instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.” But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God’s mind — that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of His creatures.

    Second, the reason why prayer experiments generally don’t work is that the intentions of the praying participants are the wrong kind of intentions required for petitionary prayer to work:

    I have seen it suggested that a team of people—the more the better — should agree to pray as hard as they knew how, over a period of six weeks, for all the patients in Hospital A and none of those in Hospital B. Then you would tot up the results and see if A had more cures and fewer deaths. And I suppose you would repeat the experiment at various times and places so as to eliminate the influence of irrelevant factors.

    The trouble is that I do not see how any real prayer could go on under such conditions. “Words without thoughts never to heaven go,” says the King in Hamlet. Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men for our experiment. You cannot pray for the recovery of the sick unless the end you have in view is their recovery. But you can have no motive for desiring the recovery of all the patients in one hospital and none of those in another. You are not doing it in order that suffering should be relieved; you are doing it to find out what happens. The real purpose and the nominal purpose of your prayers are at variance. In other words, whatever your tongue and teeth and knees may do, you are not praying. The experiment demands an impossibility.

    Empirical proof and disproof are, then, unobtainable.

    And here’s how Wikipedia describes the 2006 STEP project:

    Harvard professor Herbert Benson performed a “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP)” in 2006. The STEP, commonly called the “Templeton Foundation prayer study” or “Great Prayer Experiment”, used 1,802 coronary artery bypass surgery patients at six hospitals. Using double-blind protocols, patients were randomized into three groups, individual prayer receptiveness was not measured. The members of the experimental and control Groups 1 and 2 were informed they might or might not receive prayers, and only Group 1 received prayers. Group 3, which served as a test for possible psychosomatic effects, was informed they would receive prayers and subsequently did. Unlike some other studies, STEP attempted to standardize the prayer method. Only first names and last initial for patients were provided and no photographs were supplied. The congregations of three Christian churches who prayed for the patients “were allowed to pray in their own manner, but they were instructed to include the following phrase in their prayers: “for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications”. Some participants complained that this mechanical way they were told to pray as part of the experiment was unusual for them.

    Is it so surprising, in the light of Lewis’s remarks above, that the experiment failed to obtain a positive result? I’m not saying that prayer studies are inherently at odds with genuine petitionary prayer, and I imagine a properly designed study could be undertaken. However, it seems that this particular study wasn’t properly designed, as a test of petitionary prayer, and there appear to be many others like it.

    Finally, regarding correlation and causation, Lewis makes two points:

    (a) in the case of prayer, there are multiple confounding factors, which make it inherently difficult to establish a causal connection between our request and God’s response. For God’s decision to answer a prayer depends not only on whether it will be good for the person we are praying for, but also on whether it will be good for other parties affected, whether directly or indirectly;

    (b) even in simple, straightforward cases where we can readily perceive a causal connection between our requests and the response to those requests (such as PeterP’s example of telling the taxi driver where you want to go to and the taxi driver taking you to that location), our certitude of a causal connection is typically not scientific certainty, but rather, a certitude based on personal connections:

    For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them. Invariable “success” in prayer would not prove the Christian doctrine at all. It would prove something much more like magic—a power in certain human beings to control, or compel, the course of nature…

    …[I]n some measure the same doubt that hangs about the causal efficacy of our prayers to God hangs also about our prayers to man. Whatever we get we might have been going to get anyway. But only, as I say, in some measure. Our friend, boss, and wife may tell us that they acted because we asked; and we may know them so well as to feel sure, first that they are saying what they believe to be true, and secondly that they understand their own motives well enough to be right. But notice that when this happens our assurance has not been gained by the methods of science. We do not try the control experiment of refusing the raise or breaking off the engagement and then making our request again under fresh conditions. Our assurance is quite different in kind from scientific knowledge. It is born out of our personal relation to the other parties; not from knowing things about them but from knowing them.

    Wise words, and well worth pondering. Thoughts?

  17. vjtorley: or prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them. Invariable “success” in prayer would not prove the Christian doctrine at all. It would prove something much more like magic—a power in certain human beings to control, or compel, the course of nature…

    …[I]n some measure the same doubt that hangs about the causal efficacy of our prayers to God hangs also about our prayers to man.

    Prayers to doorknobs as well.

  18. fifthmonarchyman: By the same token Christians have been praying for speedy recovery from illness for just as long and more often than not recovery happens just as requested.

    Sure worked for the Black Death, didn’t it?

    And smallpox went away, too. Unless you believe in “vaccinations.”

    Glen Davidson

  19. GlenDavidson: Sure worked for the Black Death, didn’t it?

    And smallpox went away, too.Unless you believe in “vaccinations.”

    Glen Davidson

    My family has been praying for the sun to rise in the eastern sky for generations. So far so good.

  20. fifthmonarchyman: I’m not sure what you are asking.

    The question is quite simple and I am confident you know exactly what I am asking with this question:

    “Do you think it is an absolute that correlation never equals causation?”

    What confuses you about the question?

    I think that proving correlation is not the same thing as proving causation and proving correlation is all you can do empirically.

    Do you think that there are, or could be, any examples where the correlation of a proposed cause for an event is 100%?

    For example is it possible or impossible to make, or demonstrate, a 100% correlation between wind and waves on a lake?

    Or another example: I strike ten flies on a window with a fly swatter. Ten flies end up smashed on the window after I strike each of them with a fly swatter. The correlation is 100% between the event (swatting) and the outcome (smashed flies). Is it your position that the act of swatting cannot be said to be the cause of the fly bodies being smashed on the window?

  21. PeterP: My family has been praying for the sun to rise in the eastern sky for generations.

    I believe we all owe them a deep debt of gratitude.

  22. Corneel: So what exactly were you hoping to achieve with this exchange? Are you expecting us to react to your posts?

    Probably, just as I expect God to answer prayer unless he has good reason not to.

    The fact that we all assume that other persons will respond to us does not in anyway change the fact that we can’t demonstrate empirically that such requests are efficacious.

    peace

  23. vjtorley: Wise words, and well worth pondering. Thoughts?

    I agree,

    Lewis had the uncanny ability to make the theologically deep accessible to shallow minds. The Kingdom is surely in his debt.

    peace

  24. PeterP: “Do you think it is an absolute that correlation never equals causation?”

    What confuses you about the question?

    Correlation and causation are not synonymous so it is obviously an absolute that correlation never equals causation.

    I have no idea why an otherwise intelligent individual would suggest such a self-evidently false notion as correlation equaling causation.

    That is why the question is confusing

    PeterP: For example is it possible or impossible to make, or demonstrate, a 100% correlation between wind and waves on a lake?

    You could make a 100% correlation between wind and waves on a lake but you can’t empirically demonstrate that the wind caused the waves.

    Perhaps the thing that caused the wind also caused the waves. A blast wave from a strong explosion perhaps

    Or the wind and the waves might be a coincidental occurrence a tsunami on a breezy day perhaps. It’s certainly possible on a lake

    https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/06/19/great-lakes-tsunamis/408563001/

    peace

  25. PeterP: My family has been praying for the sun to rise in the eastern sky for generations. So far so good.

    You have no empirical way to prove that the sun’s rise is not a direct answer to your family’s prayer.

    By the same token we can’t prove that the correlation between the rising of the sun and your family request is merely coincidental.

    The same goes for requests to any person whatsoever.

    peace

  26. fifth,

    Again, proof isn’t the issue. Your claim was about evidence, not proof:

    There can be no empirical evidence that any request to any mind whatsoever is effectual.

    That is obviously — and comically — incorrect.

  27. keiths:
    fifth,

    Again, proof isn’t the issue.Your claim was about evidence, not proof:

    That is obviously — and comically — incorrect.

    He’s got an absolutely unfalsifiable theory going there. You gotta give him that. No empirical content whatever.

  28. fifth:

    correlation does not equal causation

    PeterP:

    Do you think it is an absolute that correlation never equals causation?

    fifth:

    I’m not sure what you are asking.

    PeterP:

    The question is quite simple and I am confident you know exactly what I am asking with this question:

    “Do you think it is an absolute that correlation never equals causation?”

    What confuses you about the question?

    fifth:

    Correlation and causation are not synonymous so it is obviously an absolute that correlation never equals causation.

    I have no idea why an otherwise intelligent individual would suggest such a self-evidently false notion as correlation equaling causation.

    That is why the question is confusing

    fifth,

    For someone who likes to complain about “wooden literalism”, you’re curiously dependent on it when it suits your purposes.

    PeterP interpreted your statement charitably, yet you’re bending over backwards to misunderstand him when he uses the same phrasing.

    You said that “correlation does not equal causation”. Instead of assuming that you were stating a trivial and obvious fact — that the concepts of “correlation” and “causation” are distinct — Peter instead charitably assumed that you meant that causation need not accompany correlation.

    Why not extend the same courtesy of charity to him, particularly when his question is merely echoing the infelicitous phrasing of your initial statement?

  29. fifthmonarchyman: You have no empirical way to prove that the sun’s rise is not a direct answer to your family’s prayer.

    If the family never a prayed for the sun to rise might suffice among the rational.

  30. fifthmonarchyman: The fact that we all assume that other persons will respond to us does not in anyway change the fact that we can’t demonstrate empirically that such requests are efficacious.

    You assume that I am responding to you? That is quite the leap of faith, isn’t it?

  31. vjtorley: Wise words, and well worth pondering. Thoughts?

    It is false that “the same doubt” hangs about the causal efficacy of our prayers to God as about our “prayers” to man. We can clearly tell the difference in getting a certain response if we do make a request to a person, compared to when we do not. Nothwithstanding Fifth’s bizarre denial of this, this is trivially true. This can of course be subjected to scientifically rigorous empirical validation (which is a bit of overkill, if you ask me).

    On the other hand, C.S. Lewis is working very hard to insulate the requests to God from a similar validation. Regardless, if we cannot even tell the difference between the reponses to praying and not praying, then we are most certainly not dealing with “the same doubt”, at least in quantitative terms.

  32. Corneel: It is false that “the same doubt” hangs about the causal efficacy of our prayers to God as about our “prayers” to man.

    I would disagree strongly.

    For me a person is a person whether we are talking about God or my Boss. The same process is involved and the same same sorts of results follow. Sometimes my requests are granted and sometimes not. I never know with certainty if the behavior is a result of my request or merely corollary to it.

    Corneel: This can of course be subjected to scientifically rigorous empirical validation (which is a bit of overkill, if you ask me).

    Ok prove it, describe a study that will demonstrate your requests consciously cause someone else’s behavior and not mere correlation.

    Corneel: Regardless, if we cannot even tell the difference between the reponses to praying and not praying, then we are most certainly not dealing with “the same doubt”, at least in quantitative terms.

    But we can tell the difference. Study after study show that people who pray have better mental well being than people who don’t.

    Then there is that whole “placebo” thing that PeterP wants to exclude.

    Also almost any Christian I know can give you specific examples of answered prayer. Myself included.

    It’s pretty cut and dried and dried that prayer is efficacious.

    The only difficulty comes when we try to empirically prove causation. but that endeavor is nothing but a fools errand.

    peace

  33. Corneel: You assume that I am responding to you? That is quite the leap of faith, isn’t it?

    Faith is involved in every interaction with other persons. That is what the problem of other minds is all about.

    peace

  34. newton: If the family never a prayed for the sun to rise might suffice among the rational.

    Maybe the universe has a different reason for causing the sun’s rise on the days when the family does not pray.

    There is simply no empirical way to establish this sort of thing.

    All we can do is have faith in our mental faculties and senses to give us an accurate picture of what is actually going on in the world.

    For the materialist that faith is necessarily blind.

    peace

  35. walto: He’s got an absolutely unfalsifiable theory going there. You gotta give him that. No empirical content whatever.

    just because you can’t falsify something empirically does not mean it’s unfalsifiable.

    As a philosopher you should know that.

    peace

  36. fifthmonarchyman:

    Ok prove it, describe a study that will demonstrate your requests consciously cause someone else’s behavior and not mere correlation.

    You’ve already been given several examples of this that you haven’t addressed. Why would ‘we’ need to produce more when those will suffice?

    But we can tell the difference. Study after study show that people who pray have better mental well being than people who don’t.

    Post one of them and we can discuss the methodology, results, and conclusions. You ran away from discussing the methodology on the last citation you produced so no one will hold their breath that you will follow through this time.

    Then there is that whole “placebo” thing that PeterP wants to exclude.

    Exclude? My you really haven’t been reading and paying attention to my posts on the subject. Exclude is the entirely wrong word to use to describe the situation. Putting the placebo/nocebo effect front and center would be more appropriate.

    Also almost any Christian I know can give you specific examples of answered prayer. Myself included.

    Every Hulda Clark aficionado can give you specific examples of curing, and preventing, cancer using Hulda Clark’s zapping methods and tools. Using your logic and rationalization you’d have to accept their testimonials as being valid and proof of the efficacy of zapping to rid your body of the parasites, i.e., liver flukes, that cause cancer.

    It’s pretty cut and dried and dried that prayer is efficacious.

    It is pretty cut and dried that zapping is and efficacious cure for cancer.

    The only difficulty comes when we try to empirically prove causation. but that endeavor is nothing but a fools errand.

    Not really the case/situation at all.

  37. fifthmonarchyman: Faith is involved in every interaction with other persons. That is what the problem of other minds is all about.

    We need faith to interact with other humans but we all know that God exists? You have it completely backwards, mate.

  38. Corneel: You assume that I am responding to you? That is quite the leap of faith, isn’t it?

    Quite right. You usually just talk to yourself. 🙂

  39. walto: He’s got an absolutely unfalsifiable theory going there. You gotta give him that. No empirical content whatever.

    He’s quite the moral failure, isn’t he?

  40. fifthmonarchyman: Maybe the universe has a different reason for causing the sun’s rise on the days when the family does not pray.

    Maybe if the universe can have a reason, but that is irrelevant. If the family does not pray and the sun rises we have empirical evidence the the family’s prayers are not causing the sun to rise. Unless you want to argue not praying is as effective a cause of sunrise as is praying.

    There is simply no empirical way to establish this sort of thing.

    Is there a empirical way to establish that sort of thing, otherwise what is your basis for that belief?

    All we can do is have faith in our mental faculties and senses to give us an accurate picture of what is actually going on in the world.

    Not faith, a provisional assumption. Solipsism is boring.

    For the materialist that faith is necessarily blind.

    Just the opposite, materialists believe what is seen, theists believe in the unseen.

    peace

  41. newton: If the family does not pray and the sun rises we have empirical evidence the the family’s prayers are not causing the sun to rise.

    If the family does not exist we have empirical evidence the the family’s prayers are not causing the sun to rise.

  42. Mung: If the family does not exist we have empirical evidence the the family’s prayers are not causing the sun to rise.

    To quote Fifth. “ There is simply no empirical way to establish this sort of thing.“

  43. Corneel: We need faith to interact with other humans but we all know that God exists?

    We know other humans exist as well but we still need faith to interact with them.

    Faith should not be placed in opposition to knowledge. It is the very thing that makes our knowledge useful.

    peace

  44. PeterP: You’ve already been given several examples of this that you haven’t addressed.

    I thought you knew your examples were self evidently insufficient to empirically demonstrate that requests to persons were efficacious .

    Take Simon says for example.

    It’s certainly not an attempt to see if requests to other persons are efficacious. It’s more accurately described as an attempt to see if a person will follow the letter of a request instead of spirit.

    A robot would be much better at the game that an actual person. It follows instructions to the letter.

    The reason the game is mildly amusing is that often the person who tries hardest to follow the spirit of the requests ends up failing comically.

    check it out

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPKz6svoing

    That does not even address the problem of establishing that the reason the an action was taken was because “Simon” asked for it and not things like peer pressure or unconscious reflex.

    None of your suggestions come anyway close to the methodological rigor that you are demanding for establishing that prayer is efficacious.

    You should at least be willing to live up to the evidence standard you are demanding of your opposition.

    peace

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